COPS Hiring Grants Helping Reduce Crime in America’s Cities
By Elizabeth (NJ) Mayor J. Christian Bollwage
February 15, 2010
Since its inception, the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office has invested more than $12 billion to enhance crime fighting technology, support crime prevention initiatives, as well as provide training and technical assistance to help advance community policing. By increasing communication and interaction with the citizens they protect, the COPS program has successfully changed community policing.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the COPS Program into law in an effort to place 100,000 new police officers on municipal streets. Cities like Elizabeth used COPS grant funding to hire police officers dedicated to working with the community, improving relationships and addressing specific neighborhood crime.
During the years following the creation of the COPS Office, The U.S. Conference of Mayors has actively encouraged the adoption and refinement of community policing strategies, as well as the integration of law enforcement initiatives with other local government activities. Through the COPS Program, a total of 55 police officers have been hired in Elizabeth, which is New Jersey’s fourth largest municipality. Crime rates in the city have dropped 46 percent from that time period and continue to decrease.
Due to the hard work of legislators throughout the country and the new administration’s commitment to recovery efforts, $1 billion in Recovery Act funding was allocated to the COPS Office, allowing the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) to create and/or preserve 5,000 law enforcement positions at state, local and tribal levels.
After last year’s announcement by Vice President Biden, interest in the competitive grant was abundant. As a result, the Conference of Mayors hosted a webcast sponsored by the Justice Department. Featuring top officials from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the COPS office, the webcast provided information about how to apply and eligible activities. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran moderated the session during which Acting Assistant Attorney General for Justice Programs Laurie Robinson and Acting COPS Office Director Tim Quinn answered questions and briefed viewers on the program.
Within a few months of submitting the CHRP application, Elizabeth was awarded $4.9 million to hire 17 new police officers. Thanks to the efforts of the Conference of Mayors, local New Jersey legislators, such as Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, as well as Congressmen Donald Payne and Albio Sires, 18 Garden State municipalities received more than $26 million for a total of 123 new police officers.
There is an immediate need for multifaceted programs that provide municipalities with the resources to increase services and positively impact the lives of residents. The ability to create jobs, lower crime, and promote innovative approaches to securing municipalities makes the COPS Program unique and essential to overall growth and success.